UK Gambling Commission Clarifies New Rules for 2020 to Encourage ‘Safer’ Gambling
One piece of news that may have gone under the radar of much of the media during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is the publication of the UK Gambling Commission’s 2020-21 business plan.
The report stresses the need to lessen the impact of problem gambling—in much the same vein as last year.
The four working groups that we reported were convening over the end of 2019 have also finished their assessments and put forth a set of recommendations.
25 and Counting
One of the major takeaways for gambling firms is that UK online casinos will no longer be able to target advertisements online to UK players under the age of 25.
Customers under that age will also be ineligible for VIP schemes, with more checks on finances and past gambling activity added for those who are still able to enroll.
These checks will include “full audit trails detailing decision-making with specified senior oversight and accountability.”
This sounds like heavy-duty legislation. but companies can’t say they haven’t been given months of warning to prepare for stricter laws.
In fact, they will be given even more time to implement them—up to three months, says the UKGC, which also pledged to continue its consultations with operators to ensure any kinks are smoothed over and any potential hitches dealt with.
Responsible Game Design
One of the four working groups established last year to plan out new legislation was designed to look at the mechanics of the games offered at online casinos.
Their final recommendation includes such limitations as a “minimum speed spin of 2.5 seconds and the removal of turbo buttons or auto spin features.”
These are embedded in many slot games, which may make it difficult for developers and operators to backtrack and remove them.
At the moment, however, these are tentative suggestions subject to much debate and change before being put before lawmakers—although the UKGC has said this group might even go “further and faster” in the end.
As if partly just to prove they meant business after this big announcement, the British regulator also dished out a massive £13 million fine this week.
The unlucky recipient was the UK division of US casino giant Caesar’s Entertainment, which was found to have laxly allowed problem gamblers and potential money launderers to gamble large amounts at its UK properties.
One customer gambled £3.5 million in the space of a month without adequate checks on the source of their wealth.
A designated PEP—politically exposed person, the UKGC’s term for any visitors employed to oversee the spending of public money in a foreign country—lost £795,000 ($983,000) over three months, and they were never asked where their money came from.
Caesar’s made $8.74 billion in revenue in the last quarter of 2019, so we’re sure they can handle this £13 million hit. Smaller companies that flout the same rules, though, may not.
“The failings in this case are extremely serious. A culture of putting customer safety at the heart of business decisions should be set from the very top of every company, and Caesars failed to do this,” said a UKGC representative about this case.
Caesar’s may also feel this penalty more harshly right now as its flagship casino in Las Vegas is currently shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, and customer numbers are down in the Asian gambling hub of Macau, too.
The proceeds of the fine, expected to go without appeal from the operator, will be split between the UKGC and the problem gambling charity National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.